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Difference between wet and dry curing

bernieross

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Joined Jul 30, 2017
I'm still a beginner at meat curing, I've come across a lot of conflicting advice online. Some say that when dry curing bacon or coppa, I should place the meat in a plastic bag, with the cure mix, and leave it there, sitting in the liquid that develops. Others say that I should drain off the liquid regularly, and add more cure. I've even seen instructions that I should leave the meat standing on a rack, or on a sloping board, so that the liquid falls away. I've seen instructions for prosciutto that say I should cover the leg of pork with at least an inch of salt above and below. Other instructions that insist I mustn't exceed a certain number of grams per kilo.

It seems to me that if I leave the meat sitting in the deep pool of liquid that accumulates, the curing can hardly be described as "dry". If I do that, how is this so different from wet cured or brined (what we call Wiltshire Cure in the UK), bacon? I'm really only interested in dry curing bacon and coppa. Can someone explain? Should I, or should I not, drain off the liquid?
 

biteme7951

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Leave it in the bag as it will mostly be reabsorbed back into the meat with the cure...that's how it works. Once you have the proper amount of cure in the bag, why drain it off and add back cure not knowing how much actual cure was drained off?

Barry.
 

Lonzinomaker

Meat Mopper
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In this case, dry means no additional liquid added to make a brine. I use the dry method for my bacon. I put the bacon in the bag, add the cure, trying to spread it around the meat fairly evenly, then put in fridge for 7 days, flipping meat 180 deg every day, always keeping the liquid in the bag until curing is done and time to rinse salt off. Some times there is a lot of extracted fluid and sometimes there is very little, and sometimes that fluid gets reabsorbed.
 

bernieross

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Joined Jul 30, 2017
Yes, but isn't the aim to draw the moisture out of the meat? When Italians make prosciutto, it seems they cover it in lots of salt, and then press the meat to expel all the moisture. Surely you're trying to AVOID the liquid being re-absorbed into the meat? So far I've kept pork belly in its liquid, in a bag, and it's been fine. I'm just wondering if it is truly "dry" cured, when I do that. I've just seen a video of an Italian method for pancetta, that shows how the meat is salted, then kept on a sloping board so that the liquid drains away for the duration of the curing time. That sounds more like "dry curing" to me. Thanks, but I'm still confused!
 

TomKnollRFV

Master of the Pit
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I strongly suggest picking up an actual book for this stuff. When you get into long term curing you don't want to mess up. But a 'wet' cure is where the meat is submerged into a liquid mix. Dry cure is generally where it's..well not submerged. But alot of wet cures make me wary about just doing them in the fridge with out more precise control.

I've looked at wet cures for doing back bacon and your talking 3-4 gallons of cure liquid for an 8 pound loin and it can sit in it for 2 weeks.
 

Gwanger

Smoking Fanatic
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Joined Mar 5, 2018
Yes, but isn't the aim to draw the moisture out of the meat? When Italians make prosciutto, it seems they cover it in lots of salt, and then press the meat to expel all the moisture. Surely you're trying to AVOID the liquid being re-absorbed into the meat? So far I've kept pork belly in its liquid, in a bag, and it's been fine. I'm just wondering if it is truly "dry" cured, when I do that. I've just seen a video of an Italian method for pancetta, that shows how the meat is salted, then kept on a sloping board so that the liquid drains away for the duration of the curing time. That sounds more like "dry curing" to me. Thanks, but I'm still confused!
go to Bears explanation of dry curing, he explains the dry curing process,just follow his lead and stop confusing yourself, if you are into wet curing you can go to Papa smokes explanations for a wet cure, these are the basics of curing meat and easy to follow. Good luck, a lot of people on this website use one or the other with great success.
 

bernieross

Fire Starter
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Joined Jul 30, 2017
OK. I think I get it. As I have done so far, I rub the meat with the dry cure mix. That's the meaning of "dry". The fact that I keep it in a container, (bag or other container, no difference), the moisture comes out, and the meat then sits for days in a bath of liquid, does not make this a "wet" cure. But I still have the Italian examples of curing being done by rubbing the meat with the dry cure mix, then putting the meat on a sloping board, specifically so that the liquid drains away and the meat does NOT sit in a pool of liquid. Oh dear... Where do I find Bear's explanation? Can you post a link? Thanks! (I only want to do dry cures, by the way).
 
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